Syrian forces on Saturday cut off two key rebel towns in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta, which has been the target of intense government attacks in recent weeks, a monitoring group reported.
Located on the outskirts of Damascus, Eastern Ghouta is one of the last remaining areas under rebel control near the Syrian capital.
The government forces isolated Eastern Ghouta's towns of Douma and Harasta from each other and from the rest of the enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The breakthrough came after the government retook large parts in the area connecting both towns, the Britain-based watchdog added.
The advance enables government forces to block a main road linking the northern section of Eastern Ghouta to its south.
Syria's state news agency SANA said that government forces pushed deeper into Eastern Ghouta with the aim of cutting off rebels' supply routes between the northern and southern sections of the region.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces have besieged Eastern Ghouta since 2013. An estimated 400,000 people in the region have largely been cut off from humanitarian aid, and activists have warned that the situation has become dire, with food and medical supplies quickly running out.
At least 976 civilians, including 208 children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since February 18, when al-Assad's forces started a major offensive against rebel-held areas there, according to the Observatory.